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Cultivating Well-being

For Jarred Taylor ’20, the meaning of well-being is personal and on his terms. Growing up in Clayton, N.C., Taylor participated in traditional physical activities such as basketball leagues and organized sports. However, it was not until he took up the practice of Tae Kwon-Do that he realized wellness was completely holistic.

“At the end of the classes there would be a time where it was pretty much like, ‘Okay, let’s meditate now,’ said Taylor. “It wasn’t just physical activity, but it was instilling discipline and mental awareness.”

Combined with the hiking and camping trips his family would take annually, Taylor’s perspective embedded an appreciation for nature into his well-being philosophy.

Jarred at Badlands National Park.
Photo courtesy of Jarred Taylor

The summer before he arrived at NC State, Taylor, a University Scholar, participated in Wellness and Recreation’s Wolfpack Bound experience. For seven days, he camped and kayaked at Hammock Beach State Park, near Swansboro, N.C. Spending the week with 12 other incoming students, this experience created a sense of community and an established group, making the transition to college life easier.

“Being able to just walk around and be like, ‘Oh, I know this person’ on the first few days helped,” said Taylor.

As a first-year student, debating whether to work on-campus, Taylor was urged by a friend who worked at Wellness and Recreation to visit a student-employee recruitment fair. His first preference, outdoor adventures, was not currently hiring at the time, but at that recruitment fair, Taylor learned about the wellness programs. After speaking with a professional staff member, he applied—intrigued by the idea of spreading the idea of well-being on campus.

From learning how to master public speaking to coordinating programs such as the perennial “Whine and Design,” Taylor’s time with Wellness and Recreation can be marked by extreme growth. Describing himself as shy and not very outgoing, working allowed him to move outside of his comfort zone.

It’s also a place that served as a second home.

“Carmichael ended up becoming almost like a second home,” said Taylor. “The more that I was just around, the more people seemed friendly and started to feel a part of the team. It eventually ended up like a family.”

Looking to integrate his major, landscape design, and a passion for the outdoors into a wellness program, Taylor began to research the benefits of horticulture and its impact on well-being. Learning about how plants and the outdoors can improve mental health and well-being, he organized an event called “Sowing Self-Care.” Teaching students the importance of having plants in their lives, Taylor shows how horticulture can benefit physical, emotional, and even financial well-being. 

Jarred setting up Sowing Self Care plants.
Photo courtesy of Jarred Taylor

The event is held every spring semester and embeds campus groups such as the NC State agroecology farm and NC State Dining as resources for students. 

This spring, Taylor was the recipient of the John F. Miller Award, recognizing a top student in collegiate recreation who is employed by Wellness and Recreation. This award is given to a program assistant that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, is committed to healthy and active lifestyles, demonstrates professionalism, and is a positive representative of Wellness and Recreation.

Taylor was recognized at the Wellness and Recreation “Wolfies,” a student-employee celebration and recognition event, held remotely this year. He watched in real-time as he received the John F. Miller Award.

“Jarred’s dedication, experience and willingness to serve as an ambassador of wellness demonstrate the values of the John F. Miller Award and upholds our vision to inspire a thriving Wolfpack community,” wrote Shannon DuPree, director of wellness, when nominating Taylor for the award.

“It just made me feel very accomplished,” said Taylor. “It pretty much made me feel like these past four years at NC State were even more worth it.”

Taylor is pursuing a career in landscape architecture, landing a job at a firm in Jacksonville, Fla., and is also studying to complete his landscape architecture certification.